Mechanisms underlying circadian behavioral alterations in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease

Author: ORCID icon
Weigel, Thaddeus, Neuroscience - School of Medicine, University of Virginia
Ferris, Heather, MD-INMD Endocrinology, University of Virginia
Kucenas, Sarah, AS-Biology (BIOL), University of Virginia
Bloom, George, AS-Biology (BIOL), University of Virginia
Guler, Ali, AS-Biology (BIOL), University of Virginia
Kuan, Chia-Yi, MD-NESC Neuroscience, University of Virginia
Leitinger, Norbert, MD-PHAR Pharmacology, University of Virginia

Circadian symptoms have long been observed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and often appear before cognitive symptoms, but the mechanisms underlying circadian alterations in AD are poorly understood. We studied circadian re-entrainment in AD model mice using a “jet lag” paradigm, observing their behavior on a running wheel after a 6 h advance in the light:dark cycle. Female 3xTg mice, which carry mutations producing progressive amyloid beta and tau pathology, re-entrained following jet lag more rapidly than age-matched wild type controls at both 8 and 13 months of age. This re-entrainment phenotype has not been previously reported in a murine AD model. Because microglia are activated in AD and in AD models, and inflammation can affect circadian rhythms, we hypothesized that microglia contribute to this re-entrainment phenotype. To test this, we used the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) inhibitor PLX3397, which rapidly depletes microglia from the brain. Microglia depletion did not alter re-entrainment in either wild type or 3xTg mice, demonstrating that microglia activation is not acutely responsible for the re-entrainment phenotype. To test whether mutant tau pathology is necessary for this behavioral phenotype, we repeated the jet lag behavioral test with the 5xFAD mouse model, which develops amyloid plaques, but not neurofibrillary tangles. As with 3xTg mice, 7-month-old female 5xFAD mice re-entrained more rapidly than controls, demonstrating that mutant tau is not necessary for the re-entrainment phenotype. Because AD pathology affects the retina, we tested whether differences in light sensing may contribute to altered entrainment behavior. 3xTg mice demonstrated heightened negative masking, a circadian behavior measuring responses to different levels of light, and re-entrained dramatically faster than WT mice in a jet lag experiment performed in dim light. 3xTg mice show a heightened sensitivity to light as a circadian cue that may contribute to accelerated photic re-entrainment. Together, these experiments demonstrate novel circadian behavioral phenotypes with heightened responses to photic cues in AD model mice which are not dependent on tauopathy or microglia.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Related Links:
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • circadian behavior
  • jet lag
  • masking
  • amyloid beta
  • microglia
  • retina
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